“Well-being is fundamentally no different than learning to play the cello. If one practices the skills of well-being, one will get better at it.” – Richard J. Davidson
What is the Theology?
The suggestion that we are shaped by our practices should be expected news for Christians (Phil. 4:8-9). Yet Davidson’s research might help preachers gain insight into the science—specifically, neurological circuit strengthening—behind practices such as loving kindness, prayer, presence, resilience, and generosity. Even more, Davidson’s article might provide Christian communities with a nuanced understanding of human thriving that relies heavily on practices already valued in churches.
What to Consider
- Have you ever considered well-being a skill in need of regular practice? How might Davidson’s work influence your understanding of human flourishing?
- How might Davidson’s insights into “resilience” influence your practices of prayer?
- How might Davidson’s insights into “attention” influence your practices of pastoral care (e.g. pastoral presence)?
- How might Davidson’s insights into “generosity” influence your practices of giving (e.g. theology behind tithing)?
- What steps can you take this week to practice one or more of these skills (i.e. resilience, outlook, attention, generosity) in order to pursue your own well-being?
How to go Deeper
- Encourage and resource persons/families in your church to practice praying together by emphasizing how meditation and prayer can increase resilience to hardship.
- Exploring the connections between “outlook” and practices of “loving kindness,” by planning a service project. Afterwards, invite church members to share how serving may have improved their outlook.
- Challenge your congregation to engage in the well-being practice of “attention” by leaving their phones at home or in the car on a Sunday morning. Note the stress this may cause and encourage members to pursue a community defined by their non-distracted attention toward one another.
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